Thursday, May 19, 2011

FI: In America

In America
UK/Ireland, 2003
Directed by Jim Sheridan

When doing press, filmmakers often call films "personal" projects. Very few movies, however, live up to that billing as fully as Jim Sheridan's In America.

Written by Sheridan and his daughters Naomi and Kirsten, In America is the story of an Irish family—the parents played by Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton, while sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger play the children—who move to New York after a tragedy and attempt to make a new start. The Sheridans shaped the story around a mix of events from their own lives. The result is a film that is keenly felt and realized without feeling overly sentimental or melodramatic.

The film is largely filtered through the perspective of the elder daughter, Christy, allowing the filmmakers to blend in a certain amount of magical realism and wonder without shying away from darkness and poverty. This childlike perspective finds the upside in everything, and serves as the foundation for the quiet strength that underlies the family's struggles. In America asks questions about how we process grief, and about the burdens each member of a family takes on to help the whole. I can't pretend I understand how everything works after one viewing, or even whether it all works or not, but it wasn't hard to be swept along by the film's charms, its great performances, and its emotional depth.

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